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Possible GPL Violation?

Nathan posted more than 14 years ago | from the come-and-get-it dept.

Linux 222

An Anonymous Coward wrote to inform us of a new Chinese Linux distro, Blue Point Linux 1.0RC, which includes support for Chinese characters. The bad news is the developers, who have based their effort on Red Hat's are alleged to have forgotten to include the modified kernel source. Coward asks: "Don't they violate the GPL?". Some people over at the BP Forum apparently have some thoughts. What do you think: is this against the terms of the GPL? (Can someone translate this?)

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Re:Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622786)

I think this distro is done by the people in your beloved Taiwan, which makes your chips. Doh!

Re:You people (1)

Suydam (881) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622787)

Sorry...but I don't think being afraid that people (who care's where they're from) are violating the GPL really makes for anti-commie paranoia.

There aren't that many Anti-Chinese remarks here...and those that are, have already been moderated down to off-topic (since the TOPIC is a violation of the GPL).

Re:You people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622788)

1) You people? You have the nerve to criticize and use the phrase "you people?" 2) "Nuke the commie bastards," means "nuke the COMMIE bastards." (and whoever else is standing in the area)

Re:GPL VIOLATION! OH NO! END OF THE WORLD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622808)

Because it was an attempt to start a flame war. I think posters need to be more informed and think things through before they post.

Good luck! (1)

rogerbo (74443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622809)

Well good luck enforcing this one.

All commercial software is readily available in China, India and Thailand over the counter as pirated cd's, openly for sale.

When you buy a computer they ask you if you want a
real copy of window's or should they just slap on
for you for free.

In practical terms how can you enforce the GPL
when they can't enforce ANY software licenses
in these countries?

Also, IANAL but would the GPL have any validity under the chinese legal system? Who knows if it violates any kind of tenets of the legal system there, it's certainly never been tested.

Re:Is it possible for them to be in violation? (1)

passion (84900) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622810)

If they don't follow the license (when requested), then it is stolen property. When someone violates a license anywhere by illegally copying, how is that dealt with?

What kind of international laws apply now for stolen property? How would a case be waged if someone in China cracked a bank in the US?

Re:pitfalls of open-source licensing (1)

The Dodger (10689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622811)


All a company would have to do would be to publish and illegally patent hundreds of modules that broke the GPL on an open source product. Then build the product out of the patented "proprietary" modules. Challengers to the legality of this maneuver would have to prove one by one that the modules were not legal, costing them thousands of dollars. And if they suceed for some module, well, it's simple enough to produce a legitimately proprietary version for one small part. Pretty soon you exhaust the original open source devs and they give up. Viola!

I think you're forgetting one important points - many, many hackers are Linux supporters.

I would not want to be the information security director for a company which tried this tactic. In fact, given the level of sanity which some Linux zealots display, I wouldn't want to even work for that company. (This is assuming that I was lame enough to not resign the moment I found out they were trying to proprietarise Linux anyway!).

The Jihad would have nothing on it. :-)

D.
..is for DEATH TO THE INFIDELS!!!

Re:You people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622812)

Why are you all picking on Commodore 64 users anyway?

Re:pitfalls of open-source licensing (1)

Bolero (67403) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622813)

But if a corporation had does that... all of the developers wouldn't have to fight the corporation individually, they could combine their suits into a class action lawsuit. Then they could combine their resources and hire any one of the OJ defense team =)

Re:What the hell? (1)

loki7 (11496) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622814)

Um, you're the first one to bring these points up. Nobody who posted before you was China bashing at all as far as I could see.

/peter

Source of source code? (2)

The Dodger (10689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622822)


Don't they just have to make the source code available?

D.

My thoughts (1)

lawn_ornament (99174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622825)

The chinese crew can save themselves by releasing the source immediatly and appolagising. If they don't I think this is a clear violation of GPL

There's no violation apparent... (3)

.pentai. (37595) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622828)

I'll admit I only took a glance, but not including src is by no means a violation of the GPL. I can release hundreds of programs w/o src, and do so rightfully under the GPL...the GPL simply states that src must be made available per request.

Now, if you ask for the mods and they say nay, THEN it's a violation.

Re:Source of source code? (3)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622835)

Term #3 of the GPL would appear to agree with you.

Looks like 3.b offers an escape hatch.

-----------------------------------------

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
customarily used for software interchange; or,

c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is
allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
received the program in object code or executable form with such
an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)
---------------------------

Jumping the Gun (4)

NovaX (37364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622838)

wow.. take a minute to think for a second. The GPL doesn't require the code be with the product, but be available when requested, at a fee of whatever is needed to pay transportation costs (or free). That means if these guys simply put an ftp up with the modified code, and let you know its availalbe, they shouldn't have a problem. Here's my proof.. (I really hate /. always jumping the gun..). From v1 of the GPL (cuz I was just looking at it.. thanks RMS and neelakanth (is it neel?) for finding v1 for me)...

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a portion or derivative of it, under Paragraph 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

a) accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above; or,

b) accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party free (except for a nominal charge for the cost of distribution) a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above; or,

c) accompany it with the information you received as to where the corresponding source code may be obtained. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form alone.)

How would U close it? (1)

pol-pot (101141) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622840)

If U're selling unlisenced work it require police work to stop it.

If we are to free this software. We only need one free copy of the source code, and then we can copy that one for free because It's GPL (GPL is inheritied)

Re:Good luck! (1)

Omnibus (1831) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622841)

as far as i know, china does not recognize any form for patent/copyright/intellectual property/etc.., so its not a violation of anything, as far as china is concerned.

asinus sum et eo superbio

Re:What the hell? (1)

loki7 (11496) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622842)

Oops, I take it back. Obviously /.'s filtering works pretty well. I had my threshold set to '1', and missed all of the ignorant China bashing.

/peter

How to tell if there's really a GPL violation (5)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622843)

First, get a copy of the binary software. Preferrably you should get it directly from the manufacturer, and in a nation where you have a hope of bringing a lawsuit to enforce the GPL. The United States would be best for this.

After you have gotten a copy of the binary software, you must see if there is source code for all GPL software, or if there is a clear written offer for the source code distributed along with the binary software (perhaps on the CD itself). If neither of these exist, the GPL is being violated.

Then, you should contact the manufacturer and ask for source code (for the kernel modifications, or whatever). Then if you don't get the source code, that's a GPL violation too.

Don't listen to anyone who calls it "whining" to protest a GPL violation. Remember that the Linux kernel and applications are copyrighted property of some thousands of contributors, and they have a right to enforce their license, which requires that source code be distributed upon request.

Under the GPL, if source code is not distributed with the product, the distributor of the binary code must give source code to anyone who requests it, not just people who have received the binary code. But we must see a copy of the binary product to determine conclusively whether or not source code is distributed.

Thanks

Bruce Perens

Those bastards still owe us! (0)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622844)

We never did get any pay-back for those nuclear secrets they stole! You know those "Ancient Chinese Secrets" they're always talking about? They better start spilling the beans RIGHT DAMN NOW!

Seriously though, I think we're a little too tense when it comes to potential GPL violations. I could see it being rather difficult to verify every single package on a distribution and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This could very well have been an accidental oversight and will probably get cleared up pretty quick. Not, as someone pointed out, that we could do much about it if it's not...

Re:pitfalls of open-source licensing (1)

dufke (82386) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622845)

...exhaust the original open source devs and they give up. Viola!

Hmm, I mean this is illegal at the end of the day. Not that I have faith in the American legal system (ha!), but I think the DoJ wouldn't look to favorably on this. No to mention the bad press it would cause among millions (how many are you guys? :) of sysadmins...


-

Re:Good luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622846)

All commercial software is readily available in China, India and Thailand over the counter as pirated cd's, openly for sale.



You hardly have to go that far away, whether you are in the US or Europe.

Affiliate of Caldera !? (2)

underbider (63054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622867)

the name openlinux.org is mentioned many times on their main page.(The email addresses all go there) and if you look up the domain registration, you'll see that at least the ppl who registered the domain name is from caldera. I wonder how Caldera is related with BP?

%whois openlinux.org
[rs.internic.net]
The Data in Network Solutions' WHOIS database is provided by Network
Solutions for information purposes, and to assist persons in obtaining
information about or related to a domain name registration record.
Network Solutions does not guarantee its accuracy. By submitting a
WHOIS query, you agree that you will use this Data only for lawful
purposes and that, under no circumstances will you use this Data to:
(1) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass
unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via e-mail
(spam); or (2) enable high volume, automated, electronic processes
that apply to Network Solutions (or its systems). Network Solutions
reserves the right to modify these terms at any time. By submitting
this query, you agree to abide by this policy.

Registrant:
Caldera, Inc. (OPENLINUX4-DOM)
240 West Center Street
Orem, UT 84057
US

Domain Name: OPENLINUX.ORG

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
Orcutt, David (DO331) edo@CALDERASYSTEMS.COM
(801) 523-7143
Billing Contact:
Cooper, Doug (DC1630) doug@CALDERA.COM
(801) 226-1675

Record last updated on 03-Aug-98.
Record created on 03-Aug-98.
Database last updated on 10-Oct-99 10:17:35 EDT.

Domain servers in listed order:

NS.CALDERA.COM 207.179.18.1
NS2.CALDERA.COM 207.179.18.252

Could be a violation right away (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622868)

If you get the binary product and it does not come with an offer for source code, that's a GPL violation right there.

Of course, I have not seen the product and will need to examine it along with someone who can read Chinese before I can say for sure that the GPL's being violated.

Bruce

discussion about GPL in BP forum (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622869)

ok, i browsed through the bp forum and only found one thread relating to the GPL violation. here's a rough translation: ( the words in parentheses are added by myself ) title: i'm very dissapointed... name: blue the kernel source being close-source already voilates the GPL. the chinesenization technology is for "bp linux" only is also a bad since a lot of people like mandrake, openlinux, slackware, turbolinux, redhat, debian ... no to mention that you have promised (opensource) before... ok i know promises are not enforced by law, and doing opensouce in china is very difficult, but i believe the only way to continue the development is to play by the opensource rules. is making some rpm ( for other distributions ) really so hard? how about the CLE project in taiwan? they are also very complete. bp is really the most techanically suited chinese solution right now, and i don't want to see it being ruined by short-sightedness. title: Re. i'm very dissapointed. name: hahalee yeah, look at CLE 0.9 -- already a few hundred Megabytes. A lot need to be modified in a distribution, like the hz de/coding in Pine, debug in kmail and system scripts etc... we can't depend on other distributors to maintain the packages. anyway, if you like the distribution like the preview version, feel free to continue using it. about opensource, what we promised was to include source in the release version. this is just a relatively stable debug version. the opensource theory ... (ok, there's some rambling here and i'm tired of translation ). ------------------------------------------------- so basically i think this is just like the Corel Beta version thing. ghost already left a message in bp forum informing the developers that they have made slashdot headline from GPL violation. i'm sure this will be resolved very soon.

Re:Chinese (1)

jnik (1733) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622870)

I think this distro is done by the people in your beloved Taiwan
Which makes it China according to both China and the US.

discussion about GPL in BP forum (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622871)

ok, i browsed through the bp forum and only found
one thread relating to the GPL violation. here's
a rough translation: ( the words in parentheses
are added by myself )

title: i'm very dissapointed...
name: blue
the kernel source being close-source already
voilates the GPL. the chinesenization
technology is for "bp linux" only is also a
bad since a lot of people like mandrake,
openlinux, slackware, turbolinux, redhat,
debian ... no to mention that you have
promised (opensource) before... ok i know
promises are not enforced by law, and doing
opensouce in china is very difficult, but i
believe the only way to continue the
development is to play by the opensource rules.
is making some rpm ( for other distributions )
really so hard? how about the CLE project in
taiwan? they are also very complete.
bp is really the most techanically suited
chinese solution right now, and i don't want
to see it being ruined by short-sightedness.

title: Re. i'm very dissapointed.
name: hahalee

yeah, look at CLE 0.9 -- already a few hundred
Megabytes. A lot need to be modified in a
distribution, like the hz de/coding in Pine,
debug in kmail and system scripts etc... we can't
depend on other distributors to maintain the
packages. anyway, if you like the distribution
like the preview version, feel free to continue
using it.

about opensource, what we promised was to include
source in the release version. this is just a
relatively stable debug version. the opensource
theory ... (ok, there's some rambling here and
i'm tired of translation ).

------------------------------------------------ -

so basically i think this is just like the Corel
Beta version thing. ghost already left a message
in bp forum informing the developers that they
have made slashdot headline from GPL violation.
i'm sure this will be resolved very soon.

Re:Good luck! (1)

Jonas ÷berg (19456) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622872)

If the GPL is not valid in China, then the software is supplied without any license whatsoever, thus making copying it illegal under most laws. Remember that it is only the GPL which grants you the right to distribute, modify and distribute the modifications. If you take away the GPL, you have none of these rights.

Re:pitfalls of open-source licensing (1)

Wiggin (97119) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622873)

So, my question is what has prevented this from already being done (or maybe it is in the process of being done...)?
  • the generosity of corperate america/the world? (call me a cynic, but i don't think so)
  • no one has gotten around to it yet?
  • the fear of the linux community?
As stated above it doesn't seem to hard (only some time and money required) to make the GPL fairly useless. Are lawyers the only/most effective/best method for enforcemnt? Or is the fear of the wrath of the linux community enough?

just my 2e-2$

-Wiggin

a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622874)

Now here's a problem for you all. Suppose the chinese govn't (or ANY) "steals" the source code, changes it to their liking, and then either sells it, or gives it away, but without the code. Whatta gonna do, sue 'em ??? ya right....

Re:Source code... Hah! (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622894)

Even that the message is downmarked it's right in that most of the world (sigh - I gonna be flamed, btw: I'm from Russia ;) has no interest in those modifications.
If taiwanese/chinese people are concerned - well - it doesn't make it a topic for slashdot (where there's a LOT of fascists, alas. Results are predictable)

Re:Could be a violation right away (1)

mochaone (59034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622895)

Hey Bruce, if does violate the GPL, what can anyone do about it? Who would be the appropiate person to initiate legal proceedings?

I'm afraid you're a bit confused about this (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622896)

You don't understand patents. You could patent a particular algorithm for sorting (in the U.S. where software patents are allowed) but you could not patent the "sort" program itself. You could also not successfully patent something that has alredy been published.

Regarding copyright infringement lawsuits, given all of the money behind Linux these days, one would think that we would be able to find significant financial support for enforcing our copyrights, as we did in correcting the Linux trademark issue. There is also some chance that we can bring a criminal, not civil, prosecution in some forms of copyright piracy.

But the sad fact is that it may simply not be possible to enforce the GPL in some nations, China included. You certainly can enforce it, though, if the Chinese company decides to sell its product in another nation that has conventional copyright laws.

But we still haven't seen if the company is simply confused about the GPL.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622897)

Every time Corel is mentioned we get a bunch of Canada-bashing. What's the diff?

Re:Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622898)

The post above should be moderated through the roof -- it's right.

Look at all the pirating and other forms of copyright violation that occur in China. I mean, on Ebay the other day I saw a Chinese company (or individual?) selling Godfather and Star Wars (Special Edition) trilogy DVDs. No matter what the international copyright laws say, not much is being done on the enforcing end over there.

Now, in this particular case, it doesn't seem like they're actually breaking the GPL literally: the mods they've made might not be to gpl'd code, it might be their own stuff. Or, they might not be withholding the changes, just not shipping them with their distro. That's perfectly legal, folks. As long as there IS a way to get them, it's kosher with the gpl.

Re:discussion about GPL in BP forum (1)

HoserHead (599) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622899)

In that case, BP actually is violating the GPL. Corel specifically stated that the beta licensing agreement applied only to their code, and not to all other licenses for the software.

BP does not have the right to not distribute, or make available through written offer, the source code to anything under the GPL which they are distributing/selling. That seems to be something they don't understand, and it should very nicely, but very forcefully, explained to them.

Who should sue? (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622900)

When the GPL is violated, the person who would bring suit is the copyright holder. In the case of the kernel, this would be several hundred people and organizations - but you just need one of them. Not that I am holding forth any hope about suing in China, but suing a Chinese company that does business in other nations is certainly possible.

But again, we don't know yet if these people are just confused about the GPL as Corel was, and think they can wait for the end of their Beta tests to release source or something.

Thanks

Bruce

hey, bled! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622901)

Pashol ti

Re:I say nuke the commie bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622902)

blow it out yer ass

Re:Let's Study Our GPL Catechism Some More (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622903)

I love it when idiots post to say they don't want to discuss something...

Incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622904)

The developers are whiners too.

blow over??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622905)

no, you need to: BL0W IT OUT YER ASS

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622906)

I doubt anyone would argue that (as a possibly inaccurate example) the guys at Corel are godless commies because they didn't provide the source to their distribution

Well they are Canadian.

Re:Good luck! (1)

alumshubby (5517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622907)

Further, I'd like to suggest that whether they recognize it in theory, they've tended not to enforce it in practice unless browbeaten into doing so (threats of revoking MFN status, and so forth). I understand from a Chinese student here in Columbia that it's still fairly easy to get ahold of pirated copies of . Maybe I'm conflating street marketing practices with coding and expecting higher standards of the latter. I get a general sense that the software community Over There is, shall we say, prosaic when it suits their interests.

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622908)

moderation at its best.. then again, is that a good thing?

Re:Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622909)

... and you should BLOW IT OUT YER ASS till it penetrates the roof.

Re:pitfalls of open-source licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622924)

GPL is relatively plainly worded (for a license) and intellectual property licensing is protected by the Federal law, therefore a corporation foolish enough to challenge GPL would be an inviting target by many opportunistic (working on contingent) lawyers who see 'class action suit'.

Re:discussion about GPL in BP forum (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622925)

If they give someone outside of their company a beta-test version, and that beta-test version doesn't have the source code or an offer for the source code (which is fulfilled promptly), they would be violating the GPL.

A lot of people have trouble understanding that beta-tests are distribution. But when you transfer a copyrighted work between two different legal entities, that's distribution. So, the first time beta code goes to someone who doesn't work for your company, you must fulfill your GPL obligations. Your intent to distribute source later doesn't matter, it's a violation now.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:pitfalls of open-source licensing (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622926)

First, the tactic he outlined would itself be illegal, and to willfully do it would probably be fraud, which can get you jail time. Second, nobody who does business in the Linux community wants the bad P.R. that comes with being a GPL-violator, so we never get to court on these things, they fix them first.

Thanks

Bruce

Does GPL have any merit in China? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622927)

Setting aside, for the moment, the question of whether it has merit in any other jurisdiction,
what does the GPL represent to a Chinese civil
court? Does China have civil law as we know it?
The image that has been planted in my mind of
Chinese law, involves a court system that sits
on a 3 meters high podium and makes brutal decisions. Would bringing a redress for a GPL violation subject the complainant to the risk of
being dragged off to work in a labor camp for 50 years, if it suited the judge? Or has the impression of Chinese justice that is presented to Americans been grossly distorted?

Re:Is it possible for them to be in violation? (1)

Elian (10270) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622928)

If they don't follow the license (when requested), then it is stolen property. When someone violates a license anywhere by illegally copying, how is that dealt with?
Well, if what they've done violates laws and/or treaties that the country they're in has or is signatory to, then they get prosecuted as normal in that country. If what they've done isn't illegal in the country they've done it in, generally they're off the hook.
What kind of international laws apply now for stolen property? How would a case be waged if someone in China cracked a bank in the US?
I think this stuff is governed by the Berne convention and some of the other intellectual property treaties. IIRC, China is not signatory to them, in which case what they've done isn't illegal. Slimy, perhaps, but not illegal.

Asians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622929)

Yes, there is a long tradition of disregard for property rights in many asian countries. This should be troubling for the "banish IP" folks who lurk on Slashdot; the fact is that your precious GPL would be worthless without strong intellectual property laws.

Re:Who has power to enforce GPL? (2)

Pug (21) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622930)

Actually, the FSF has Eben Moglen, a professor at Columbia, as their general council. I also think that RMS is eager to get a GPL test case so that he can see if it holds up, and if it doesn't, what needs to be fixed. Hell, NeXT took one look at the GPL and decided to not even try to fight it.

Re:Affiliate of Caldera !? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622931)

openunix.org

Re:SLASHDOT MODERATION EXPLAINED! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622932)

It is interesting that you should bring this up. Indeed, this post is Truth, but in fact, was moderated down. Slashdot moderation doesn't work.

Moderation abuse (0)

howardjp (5458) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622933)

Why is this marked flamebait?

It is clearly true that had the organization used BSD instead of Linux this would not be an issue. It also shows that the GPL and Linux are anti-business.

The moderation here is clearly a GPL zealot pushing his own agenda despite the detriment to society and the industry. Someone should moderate this up to where it belongs.

Additionally, the first response to this comment should be moderated up as well as it is also an example of moderator abuse.

Re:Let's Study Our GPL Catechism Some More (1)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622934)

yeah, especially when both show up as anonymous cowards :) I'm sick of the gpl discussion myself also, thats twice, or maybe even 3 times its come up this week in one story or another.. oh well..

The point I haven't seen made... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622935)

... is if there IS a violation of the GPL, why are all of us programmers looking to government to be the power that helps enforce it?

If a person (or group) decides to act in violation of the GPL, the programmers themselves should be the ones to enforce it, not the US Dept of Whatever (or any other government).

How do we enforce it? That's obvious. Groups and people that violate the GPL just plain and simply loose INCREDIBLE amounts of trust in the free source community. If they proceed to continue their violations, the community itself will just have nothing to do with them or their project. If noone in the community wants anything to do with a project, the project dies.

Don't underestimate the power we possess.

Who has power to enforce GPL? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622936)

Ooooo! Another company violated the GPL? We nag loudly. The end.

This is about as much an accomplishment as the UN "comdemning" Iraq for their latest violation-du-jour. Hussein's programs hav now been moving forward largely unhindered now while the UN condemns him regularly. Who won the Gulf war again? What was accomplished?

Without the power to back them up, rules and licenses and treaties are utterly meaningless. So GPL has been violated? Who will SUE? Who will PAY to do something? And something better be done if you don't want GPL to be declared "abandoned" for lack of enforcement. So who will act? You? Mr. Slashdot reader. Mr. AC over there? ESR? And if no one does anything, expect to see more GPL violations and more inaction. There's also the question of who can sue for a given GPL violation. Can only the original author of the relevant piece of software sue? Can others sue for him (with or without the original author's permission). GPL says NOTHING about punishment for violations and therefore, IMO is meaningless.

GPL is little more than "oh please", "It would really be nice if", "we recommend", "don't be naughty", "we'll frown at you really hard if" drivel. Rules require REAL PEOPLE AND REAL POWER to back 'em up or they're meaningless. So far, GPL violations have been corrected by the company merely trying to fend onn bad publicity and not because of real legal pressure. Eventually, there will be a GPL violator who DOESN'T CARE about bad publicity. This Chinese Linux vendor may be just such a violator. Others will be waiting to violate GPL based on what they see happening with this case.

Re:Affiliate of Caldera !? (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622937)

>>> FROM www.openlinux.org MAIN PAGE >> END www.openlinux.org QUOTE

That should tell you. In other words, it's a forum, like slashdot only for development by different Open Source groups. That's kind of like me saying, I wonder what sort of affiliation Andover.Net has to the RPMs on DaveCentral?

Point is, there is no relation other than that's the location that all the Blue Point folks go to discuss their project.

Re:Affiliate of Caldera !? (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622938)

My bad, the copied text didn't get in there cause I'm stupid and put it in a tag (although I said Plain Old Text. here it is:

Welcome to OpenLinux.org.
OpenLinux.org was created for Linux developers interested in the open source projects related to the OpenLinux distribution. On this site you will find source code, whitepapers and mailing lists for the various projects. In short, everything you need for participating in the development or simply getting a detailed idea about a projects internals.

Although the projects hosted up to date were all initiated by Caldera Systems, we would also be happy to host other open source projects. Please email projects@openlinux.org if you would like your project hosted on OpenLinux.org.


END www.openlinux.org QUOTE

Re:Chinese (1)

minority (23819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622939)

You are right. The 'CLE' is the GPL complaint by taiwanese. If we are talking about distribution, two new chinese distribution from taiwan will be available very soon, powerlinux [powerlinux.com.tw] is of them, based on RedHat and CLE.

Minor correction here (3)

Chris Johnson (580) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622940)

Actually, if they give someone _inside_ of the company a beta or alpha or random coyrighted hack, as a binary, then that is distribution, and they'd have to give the person source under the GPL, or at least make it available.
The trick is, in this situation it's probably being given to another programmer anyway- so it's _assumed_ that they're getting the source (to work on). But the point is an important one- there's no distinction between alpha, beta and final, and no distinction between inside the company and outside it, as far as GPL applying. When you give a person a binary you let them have source, that's the bottom line. It most certainly applies within a company as well. To control this, only give binaries and source to people who need it to work on, and who agree with you not to distribute it more widely yet. That has to be voluntary because the GPL specifically authorizes anyone to redistribute further on their whim, and doing so is also in the spirit of the license.
You can explain to your programmer that you want the program to be more finished and whole before the world sees it. Suggesting that the bugs should be fixed first is not a good idea, because that brings thoughts of 'many eyes/easy bugs' and is an argument for going widely public instantly. Instead, a better argument for voluntarily keeping a distribution limited at first is that in early stages, the 'essence' of the program is very blurry and weak. You want to have the program stand on its own and seem original and worthwhile, bugs or no bugs, by the time you're really putting it out there. Otherwise people might not understand what it wants to be, and the open source interaction might pull it in many unhelpful directions.
One might even say that a GPLed program doesn't need a buglist so much as a manifesto (ducks ;) ) ...a clear statement of what the program wants to grow to become. Given that, there can be direction and clarity. Without it, you might have a perfectly bugless program that was just a pile of unrelated functionality.

Checkout openlinux.com !!! REDHAT OWN IT!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622941)

Looks like Caldera screwed up....again. Makes the OpenLinux trademark a little hard to enforce as well.

Hmm..? ;) (1)

Kitsune Sushi (87987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622942)

A lot of people have trouble understanding that beta-tests are distribution. But when you transfer a copyrighted work between two different legal entities, that's distribution.

I think you've spent a little too much time making your mark on this discussion, Bruce.. (not that I mind seeing some actually intelligent, factual posts, but the above seems a little confusing at first glance..) Using the word "but" in and of itself would seem to indicate to me that the current sentence was an exception to the preceding one.. which would mean that you would have meant to say that "people have trouble understanding that beta-tests are [not] distribution", and I rather doubt that, given the context.. unless, of course, you also meant to say that "that [internal company employee only] beta-tests are [not] distribution", which again, given the context, seems to be the most accurate assertation.

Care to clarify, or have I pretty much nailed it on the head? I can't be entirely sure due to the confusing nature of the wording involved. Perhaps it's just because I don't take too well to subtlety. Who knows..?

P.S. The first sentence is a reference to the notion that once you take it upon yourself to reply to a large number of posts within a single discussion, being forced to repeat yourself often, you're likely to slip up somewhere, however slight. ;)

GPL and Source (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622943)

GPL doesn't require that every distribution includes the source. What it requires is that the source is available. The GPL can be satisfied by them posting the complete source on the Net. The may need to add and update to the distribution that includes that URL where they can find the source.

Re:There's no violation apparent... (1)

stevied (169) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622944)

"the GPL simply states that src must be made available per request."

Not quite, it says (section 3 (b)):

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;

How the software is distributed is also important (2)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622945)

Now, if you ask for the mods and they say nay, THEN it's a violation.

Clarification: If you get the code from them, and then you ask for the modifications, and are rejected.

I haven't looked to see if they're a "Wide open FTP server" or if they're a CD only kinda thing, but they are only required to give the mods to the people they distributed it to, upon request.

e.g., if you buy the binaries from FooBarOnlineCDSales.com, and it doesn't include the source, only FooBarOnlineCDSales.com is required to give you the mods. If they don't have them, then they damn well better get them (pronto) from whoever THEY got the code from, so as to be able to meet the GPL's requirements.

Now if its an FTP server, they have a hard time proving they DIDN'T supply you, and they need to make it available to one and all who ask.

GPL (2)

dclydew (14163) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622946)

The GPL states that the code must be freely available. So if they post it on a web/ftp server they'll be fine. Or if they include an address that someone can write for the source, then thats ok too...

Just ask Linuxcare about their boot/root credit card cd gimmick at LWE :-)

You people (2)

lawn_ornament (99174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622948)

are somewhat of a dissapointment to me. I thought that the "great nation of USA" should be a little more cultivated than to still be afraid of the "Red Danger".

Can't you people still see it.. socialism, communism, marxism... it's all just governments... the people that populate the country in question are still humans, and diserve nothing else than to be treated as such

Re:Jumping the Gun (2)

Trick (3648) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622951)

While I'm with you on not jumping the gun on this, I don't see that they've:

a) accompanied it with source
b) offered source, or
c) said where the source may be obtained

Of course, option [c] does not apply here, anyway.

Still, they should definitely be given a chance to make things right before people go jumping down their throats.

---
Consult, v. t. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.

Availability vs. Inclusion (1)

erlenic (95003) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622953)

Personally, I wouldn't use a distro that made me get the kernel source elsewhere (I buy CD's), but in regards to a violation, I think that it should be fine if it is possible to get it somewhere, even if it means giving the users of the distro a URL for some other site. I'm not sure what the GPL says though.

Re:I say nuke the commie bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622956)

I didn't know that Linus was such a radical.

Re:Damn Commies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622961)

If they're not violating IP on proprietary software and music and pirating *that* they're making changes to copylefted stuff and not releasing the source.

Brickhouse in violation also? (4)

schematic (2337) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622962)

Over at 3rd Pig [3rddpig.com] they've got a RedHat kernel (from the 4.1 distro i believe) that's been hacked up to use process based security. They've been running a public test and haven't released the code even though they have been asked. I don't know if they give you the source when you purchase it, but at the price they charge (~$10k+) i don't think i'll find out.

I would think that if they modified a linux kernel, they would have to release the source. (Don't flame me as i haven't really read up on the liscences and i'm just expressing my opinion.)

Re:What the hell? (1)

bassfantasizer (83774) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622963)

The fact that China would attempt to obtain software in violation of a license agreement comes as no surprise to me.

They have for years denied the validity of "intellectual property" as a means to obtain that that belongs to another and do with it as they wish.

I personally witnessed them install about $60,000 USD worth of proprietary software on a system for which they did not have a license. (The site had two mainframe class machines. System A was licensed for a particular software. The Chinese government declined to purchase a license for System B. Yet they deliberately installed the software on the second machine.)

The "irony/funny thing/cute part" is that in copying the software to the second machine, they made a mistake that hung the system and asked me to help them solve the problem. After having the software removed and the system returned to production, their staff again copied the software, this time getting it right. The local government even put up a large banner praising his success their systems' analyst for saving the government the license fees.


per request (1)

Bud^- (70689) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622964)

Under the GPL you have to either include the source, or make the source avaiable upon request.

This means if they didn't include the source, you must email/write/phone/fax/etc them and request the source code, they then must provide the source by ftp/http/email/letter/fax/etc.

Not including source is not against the GPL, not fullfilling request made for the source, is breaking the GPL.

I buy binary only Linux cds all the time. If I want/need the source, %99.9 of the time it can be obtain by (ftp||www).DISTRO_NAME.(COM||ORG||NET)

Checks this distro's ftp/web site that looks like they broke the GPL, it should be there, if not email them asking for it, if they don't fullfill your request (in one way or another), then it is time to put the smack down on the punks...

Remember if you request source by fax and they post it to there web page, that is STILL legal, just because they don't fullfill your request they way you see fit, doesn't mean they are breaking the GPL... What if Red Hat, had to mail complete source of all the GPL programs in there distro by airborn mail, printing 1 Million + lines of code shiped via next day air, it would put them out of business. Instead they include most (if not all) with the distro media, ftp server...

Re:Is it possible for them to be in violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622965)

The flip side is that we don't have to worry about penalties for stealing THEIR software.

Not that I see why anyone'd want to - the Chinese are shitty coders...

Re:You people are idiots (1)

NovaX (37364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622966)

If you take a look at my reply [slashdot.org] to another poster, you'll see I agree the licenses aren't something to go crazy about. I was also trying to show how they did nothing to horrible, except being forgetful. IMHO, Slashdot continues to jump the gun, as I still have my doubts on Corel's "violation." Thus, you can see I'd rather break the GPL than nuke the chinese.

Re:SLASHDOT MODERATION EXPLAINED! (sigh) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622967)

There is a big differance between flame bait, and truth. Ive seen good anti kde/gnome/linux/bsd posts get moderated UP, and pro-linux/etc FLAIMBATE moderated down. The reason for moderation, many people just do not care to read rude posts. Yours is a good example. You could have expressed the same point of view without referaces like "Linux retards" and I bet your ass it would NOT have been moderated down. If you act like a child you will get treated like a child,... But if you just try to discuss something like an adult you will get treated accordingly. And for the note, a great deal of the comments Ive seen moderated down are ususally because of racism, or are just set out to hurt people. I firmly believe that is a very good reason to have a moderation system. And yes, you might argue... What about free speach. Yes, that is being addressed because even the most racist arguements are there. And people who want to see these things still can. It takes a lot for a post to be deleted all together. Because of all this you DO have a right to read comments reguardless of moderation or content, and you have a right to post likewise. There are two ways to make a point. One you end up calling the other person (group of people) a bunch of harsh names and end up making people mad. The other you just be civilized and express your point calmly. A lot more people will have no problem accepting the later as a valid opinion. just my 2 cents excuse my spelling, I do not have time right now to bring up a spell checker.

Re:pitfalls of open-source licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622968)

The same could work against the Company though. If each module owner sued the hypothetical corporation in question separately how much would it benefit the corporation to have x number of lawsuits against them? I see the loss vs. profit becoming very severe very quickly, not even mentioning the negative publicity for the corporation. And I think us open-sourcers are creative and persistant enough to make them feel the sting of doing something so foolish.

i'm the anonymous coward who started this thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622969)

and I still say, nuke the commies.

Re:Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622970)

You thought wrong. The simplified chinese this distribution uses is not used in Taiwan which uses traditional chinese. They have their "Chinese Linux Extension" at cle.linux.org.tw which is fully GPL compliant.

No, you code, they use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1622971)

Anyone violating the GPL wont care a rats if the OSS Community dont like them. Like, why would they care?

Corel & Blue Point (1)

minority (23819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622972)

The people of Blue Point said something similar to Corel. They claims that Blue Point is in beta, so they won't release the source code. They 'promise' that they 'might' release the source code in the final version.

But it is just a promise, not legally confirm that they must release the source late.

So, Unlike Corel. Blue Point don't want to make any correction up to now.

Several points from their agruments which I can't stand for:

1. They agru that the current CLE have tons of problems, they said working so hard to correct the mistakes. (CLE is majority from taiwan).

2. They said they are working so hard, so they don't want to release it now.

3. They said others don't understand their special situation

Anyway, please support debian.

Re:What the hell? (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622973)

It's long been a practiced for lesser developed nations to try to bootstrap themselves into the modern world by acquiring technology hook or crook from more developed nations. This can take the form of pirating, industrial and governmental espionage (anyone who thinks the Chinese haven't been spying here is badly mistaken), getting licenses to manufacture XYZ and then reneging on terms limiting the disclosure to third parties etc.

Software piracy, GPL violations etc. are only the tip of the iceberg.

Nor is China the first, nor will they be the last to do this. They may in fact be the WORST though by virtue of their size and their represive government.

The only way to deal with the issue is by hitting them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. If GPL is being violated we need to complain to the same trade organizations that put pressue on China for all their other acts of international piracy, and complain to senators/congressmen about the favorable trade agreements that are being pushed through. Make no mistake about it. The current Chinese government is not your friend.

Do USA Copyrights apply to China? maybe not. (1)

jkorty (86242) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622974)

One point: China is not the USA. The GPL is a USA based copyright. It wouldn't apply to China unless China has previously agreed to honor USA copyrights.

Re:Source of source code? (2)

stevied (169) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622978)

"Term #3 of the GPL would appear to agree with you. Looks like 3.b offers an escape hatch."

"Making the source available" isn't the same as providing a written offer to do so. Does anyone know if such an offer is included? IMHO this is important because not everyone would think to ask for the source if it wasn't included, and its availability wasn't mentioned.

Also, isn't it fairly stupid not to supply the kernel source? That means you're stuck with the compile-time options the package maintainer chose. Ugh.

What the hell? (3)

Trick (3648) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622979)

O.K., I can deal with the concern about a Linux distribution not including source, even if it might be a bit premature.

What's with all this China-bashing, though? Sure, China's got its problems... but it's not like this is the first time someone's done this. To say it's happened because "the Chinese make their own rules" or "the Chinese don't believe in intellectual property" is speculation at best, and bigotry at worst.

They screwed up. Westerners have done the same thing, and I doubt anyone would argue that (as a possibly inaccurate example) the guys at Corel are godless commies because they didn't provide the source to their distribution.

---
Consult, v. t. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.

Is it possible for them to be in violation? (2)

Elian (10270) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622980)

Are the Chinese even signatory to any of the treaties that govern these things? If they're not, then the license doesn't have any power in China (and may not in most of the world anyway) and they're not violating it.

Re:Jumping the Gun (1)

NovaX (37364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622981)

[c] is exactly what aplied here, if they ignore gong forward with [c], than its a violation IMHO. Yet, if they only just realized, its something they can fix. They will fix it, it wasn't intentional, so I'm sure they'll make people aware in an adaquate fashion of where the modifications may be obtained. However, the point should be not to attack developers for being a bit forgetful at times (where still human!), and merely just to give them a hard nudge to fix it ASAP.

Re:Damn Commies (2)

ebcdic (39948) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622982)

Typical - on the one hand we have people saying that the GPL is communism, and on the other people blaming communism for violation of the GPL.

Re:You people (3)

John Fulmer (5840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622983)

That's funny, I keep my moderation filter at '1' and didn't see any anti-Chinese posts. Just goes to show that ./'s moderation system DOES work. :)

BTW, how can you tell that AC posts are from US citizens or even from a 'Western' country? Maybe it's a Taiwanese/Japanese/'Insert Eastern Country Here' person.

I also got the feeling that it was the same person posting most of the AC anti-Chinese remarks.

Sigh...

jf

Translation (2)

bagel (78837) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622984)

I've just had a look at the first half of the forum (too long, got to do some work). All of them are about installation problems and packages available in the distribution. I found 2 comments about source code availablilty. The first one is in English "Isn't it Linux? Please Open Source!" and was regarded as a flame in the one reply (also in English). The second one is in Chinese, posted by a RealLinux (0 byte(s) ReaLinux 10/8/99 2:04 pm). The title of the post says "No source code, I don't need BluePoint". There's one reply by a Simon (23 byte(s) simon 10/8/99 11:19 pm) saying "Good! Then go ahead..." (original reply in English).

It seems like it's not seen as an issue at all on the forum.

Re:GPL VIOLATION! OH NO! END OF THE WORLD! (2)

NovaX (37364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1622985)

Are you really a BSD user, or just some idiot trying to make BSD look bad? When Linux zealots loved to try to degrade BSD users, this was exactly what they did. Sometimes I can't tell if its these users just reversing it (since they know everyone hates it and makes BSD, as it made Linux before, look bad).. or more likely.. just some little @$%!ing brat.

Now, the GPL has every right to exist, and users have every right to make sure other obide by it. I'm sure if you go rape some child they're parents will happily get the government to put the full force of the law down on your... But this isn't as severe, which is why no ones going to jail or such. Violations still deserve attention, to be takn with concern (while staying calm) and not to ridicule the license because some people are inept and try to ignore it.

Re:Availability vs. Inclusion (1)

PigleT (28894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1623003)

From ftp://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/GPL , I think you're pretty much exactly right.
The requirement is, as others have already posted, that the source is either distributed with it, or made available and you know that's the state of play, etc.

Of course, in practice, it would be rather nice if kernel mods made their way back to Linus or somebody else in the kernel team for approval...

Re:Jumping the Gun (3)

Trick (3648) | more than 14 years ago | (#1623004)

Actually, my [c] was in response to your [c] which was probably referring to a [c] in the GPL which applies to binary-only non-commercial distributions, which is why I was saying that [c] didn't apply (at least, it doesn't appear to).

However, if they did [c] (not to comply with your original [c], but actually to your original [a] or [b], since [c] only applies of the source wasn't yours to begin with), then they'd be [a][o][k].

I really need to cut down on the coffee.


---
Consult, v. t. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.

What if...? (1)

Graabein (96715) | more than 14 years ago | (#1623005)

I'm sure the people behind this distro will make the source available somehow, so this will all blow over as a non-issue.

However, here's an interesting thought:

What if they don't? Will anyone be able to "enforce" the GPL (or stop the distro)? Won't this distro become hugely popular in all countries that use the Chinese characters, GPL-violation or no GPL-violation?

Just a thought.

-- Gunnar

pitfalls of open-source licensing (3)

konstant (63560) | more than 14 years ago | (#1623006)

IANAL, but... Let's just hope that no major corporations discover how flimsy a protection the GPL really is.

Legal and accurate though it might be, the GPL has a fatal shortcoming as a protectant of open source rights, namely that it costs money to enforce.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the practice among American convicts of filing spurious lawsuits against the prison system in an attempt to wear it down. Inmates have filed civil rights claims against everything from the temperature of the bathwater to the flavor of peanut butter served in the cafeteria. These lawsuits are not serious, but they cannot be prevented because the right to sue has been tied by the courts to the rights of free speech. The upshot is that DA's offices are exhausted in some counties with the sheer expense of filing counterclaims and motions to dismiss.

If someone really wanted to demolish the open source protections on a product, all they would have to do is reverse this tactic. A lot of open source programmers and "foundations" just don't have the money to fight more than a handful of costly legal battles. All a company would have to do would be to publish and illegally patent hundreds of modules that broke the GPL on an open source product. Then build the product out of the patented "proprietary" modules. Challengers to the legality of this maneuver would have to prove one by one that the modules were not legal, costing them thousands of dollars. And if they suceed for some module, well, it's simple enough to produce a legitimately proprietary version for one small part. Pretty soon you exhaust the original open source devs and they give up. Viola!

What we need, as other have said, is some sort of fund to hire crack lawyers. Like the ACLU, except for open source.

-konstant

Re:Jumping the Gun (1)

NovaX (37364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1623007)

grin.. I know which [c] you mean. That was about informing the users of where to get the code. As they did no include the code or an offer of how obtain the code, we are left at analyzing [c]. While they did not accompany information of where to get the source code, that was because they had not realized their error. Thus, I'm sure we can be kind and not bitter, and let them inform their users where this code may be obtained. Doing so in an adaquate fashion would be acceptable to everyone, except some annoying zealot.
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